Prognosis and Treatment Options for Canine Lymphoma

Aside from abstaining from treatment, the most frequently used canine lymphoma treatment involves chemotherapy. Canine lymphoma, also referred to as canine LSA, canine lymphosarcoma, or lymphoma in dogs, is a rather common disease among dogs, and is the most commonly diagnosed malignant cancer in canines.

Chemotherapy for Canine Lymphoma

Dogs can often be successfully treated for lymphoma through the use of chemotherapy, a term that means the same in the canine world as it does in the human world. In fact, like with humans, dogs can receive single-agent chemotherapy or combination chemotherapy, something that would be determined by one's veterinary oncologist.

Single Agent Chemotherapy

Drugs in single-agent chemotherapy include the following. Although single-agent chemotherapy is not considered as effective as combination chemotherapy, it is often the only choice for financially strapped owners, and can nonetheless prove effective.

  • Doxorubicin (Typically given once every three weeks. Considered effective but it presents the same issues in dogs as in humans—potential cardiac toxicity and skin necrosis if extravasated—meaning if it escapes the blood vessel and bleeds into the skin)
  • Lomustine
  • Mitoxantrone
  • Cyclophosphamide
  • Prednisone. [Prednisone is a corticosteroid but has broad uses in chemotherapy. However, for lymphoma in dogs, some experts believe it provides only very short-term relief and that it actually has the tendency to lead to chemo-resistance]

Combination Chemotherapy

Some common combination chemotherapy regimens for lymphoma in dogs include the following. Keep in mind that many experts believe that regimens that feature doxorubicin are likely to be the most successful, offering complete response rates in as high as 90% of dogs and median survival times of 12 months:

  • COP (cyclophosphamide, vincristine, prednisone)
  • Prednisone plus cyclophosphamide
  • Prednisone, vincristine, cyclophosphamide, and doxorubicin
  • Chlorambucil, L-asparaginase, prednisone, and vincristine

Unfortunately, owners should be aware of the fact that despite the seeming efficacy of chemotherapy treatments, according to one expert as many as 95% of all dogs will relapse.

Bone Marrow Transplantation

Although it is not commonly offered nor commonly performed, lymphoma in dogs can and is sometimes treated with a bone marrow transplant. A machine is used to harvest healthy stem cells from a dog's peripheral blood. Radiation is then applied to kill the cancer cells in the dog's body, and then the health stem cells are re-introduced. According to one of the few canine lymphoma treatment centers that offers this procedure, the cure rate is as high as 30%, compared to the much lower (under 2 percent) cure rate of chemotherapy in canines.

Not all dogs are candidates for a bone marrow transplant. Owners should consult with their vet to determine whether or not their dog is a good candidate or not.


A dog's prognosis from chemotherapy treatment is often gauged by two factors: 1) The general health of the dog when treatment is initiated (dogs in good general health have a better prognosis), and 2) The response of the dog to the first one or two lymphoma treatments (the better the early response, the better the prognosis).


  • Khanna C. "A New Option for the treatment of canine lymphoma." Animal Cancer Institute LLC
  • Thamm DH VMD. "Advances in Treatment for Canine Lymphoma." Animal Emergency Center.
  •, Canine Lymphoma
  • North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine, Canine Bone Marrow Transplant.

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Photo: Pixabay

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